Skin Cancer

The Most Common Cancer

Men and women of all ages and races can develop skin cancer, the most serious form of skin cancer. It is widely believed to be caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun and other sources, such as tanning lamps. Skin cancer is most treatable when detected in its earliest stages. Talk to your doctor about risk factors for melanoma and when you should be screened. Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. If you have skin cancer, it is important to know which type you have because it affects your treatment options and your outlook.

Skin Cancer Affects Everyone

Skin cancer is considered to only affects non-Hispanic white Americans; this is a dangerous precedent for people of color who are also at risk of developing the most common type of cancer.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, the estimated five-year melanoma survival rate for Black patients is only 70% versus 94 percent for white patients.
Skin cancer represents approximately 2-4% percent of all cancers the Asian population, 4-5%
percent of all cancers in the Latino/Hispanic population and 1-2% percent of all cancers in African American populations.

Late-stage melanoma diagnoses are more prevalent among Latino/Hispanic and Black populations than non-Hispanic white populations.

Risk Factors For People Of Color

Melanomas in Black people, Asians and native Hawaiians most often occur on nonexposed skin with less pigment, with up to 60 to 75 percent of tumors arising on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions.

In people of color, the plantar portion of the foot is often the most common site of skin cancer, being involved in 30 to 40 percent of cases.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in Black people.

Late-stage melanoma diagnoses are more prevalent among Hispanic and Black people than non-Hispanic white people; 52 percent of non-Hispanic black patients and 26 percent of Hispanic patients receive an initial diagnosis of advanced-stage melanoma, versus 16 percent of non-Hispanic white patients.

People of color have higher percentages of acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM, melanoma of the palms, soles and nailbeds) than Caucasians, whereas superficial spreading melanoma is the most frequent subtype in Caucasians and Hispanics.

For more information, visit The Skin Cancer Foundation

Examine Your Skin

Get a professional skin examination from a dermatologist once a year and learn how to perform a monthly skin self-examination. Skin self-exams do not require any special medical equipment. All you need are your eyes, a mirror, and the knowledge of what to look for.
• Perform skin self-examinations in a well lit room in front of a full-length mirror. Use a handheld mirror for hard-to-see
places. The best time to do a skin self-exam is after a shower or bath.
• Learn the pattern of your moles, freckles or other birthmarks so that you will notice any changes.
• Look for new growths, spots, bumps or sores that do not heal normally
• Don’t forget hard-to-see areas of your body such as your head, the underside of your arms, the backs of your legs and between your toes.
• Know the “ABCDEs” of moles.
Asymmetrical: Is the mole oddly shaped?
Border: Does the mole have irregular or vaguely
defined borders?
Color: Does the mole have uneven coloring or
multiple colors?
Diameter: Is the mole larger than a pencil eraser or is it growing in size?
Evolution: Has the mole grown or changed in any way?


Skin cancer is treatable and largely preventable and there are a large number of resources available. If you want to learn more, have questions or need guidance there is a wealth of information for you to use.

AIM at Melanoma

American Academy of Dermatology

American Society for Dermatologic Surgery

The Skin Cancer Foundation

Time to Screen


Thank you to our partners in the fight against skin cancer.

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National Minority Quality Forum is a research and educational organization dedicated to ensuring that high-risk racial and ethnic populations and communities receive optimal health care. This nonprofit, nonpartisan organization integrates data and expertise in support of initiatives to eliminate health disparities.

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